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Gwadar's quake island unlikely to last: experts

GWADAR: A small island created in the Arabian Sea by the huge earthquake that hit southwest Pakistan has fascinated locals but experts say it is unlikely to last long.

The 7.7-magnitude quake struck on Tuesday in Balochistan’s remote Awaran district, killing more than 260 people and affecting hundreds of thousands.

Off the coastline near the port of Gwadar, some 400 kilometres from the epicentre, locals were astonished to see a new piece of land surface from the waves.

“It is not a small thing, but a huge thing which has emerged from under the water,” Gwadar resident Muhammad Rustam told news agency AFP. “It looked very, very strange to me and also a bit scary because suddenly a huge thing has emerged from the water.”

Mohammad Danish, a marine biologist from Pakistan’s National Institute of Oceanography, said a team of experts had visited the island and found methane gas rising.

“Our team found bubbles rising from the surface of the island which caught fire when a match was lit and we forbade our team to start any flame. It is methane gas,” Danish said on a local television news channel.

The island is about 60 to 70 feet (18 to 21 metres) high, up to 300 feet wide and up to 120 feet long, he said. It sits about 200 metres away from the coast.

Gary Gibson, a seismologist with Australia’s University of Melbourne, said the new island was likely to be a “mud volcano”, created by methane gas forcing material upwards during the violent shaking of the earthquake.

“It’s happened before in that area but it’s certainly an unusual event, very rare,” Gibson told AFP, adding that it was “very curious” to see such activity some 400 kilometres from the quake’s epicentre.

The so-called island is not a fixed structure but a body of mud that will be broken down by wave activity and dispersed over time, the scientist said.

A similar event happened in the same area in 1945 when an 8.1-magnitude earthquake at Makran triggered the formation of mud volcanoes off Gwadar.

Professor Shamim Ahmed Shaikh, chairman of the department of geology at Karachi University, said the island, which has not been named, would disperse within a couple of months.

He said it happens along the Makran coast because of the complex relationship between tectonic plates in the area. Pakistan sits close to the junction of three plates – the Indian, Arabian and Eurasian.

“About a year back an island of almost similar size had surfaced at a similar distance from the coast in the Makran region. This would disperse in a week to a couple of months,” Shaikh told AFP.

Gibson said the temporary island was very different from the permanent uplift seen during major “subduction zone” earthquakes, where plate collisions force the Earth’s crust suddenly and sometimes dramatically upwards.

For example, in the massive 9.5-magnitude earthquake in Chile in 1960 – known as the world’s largest ever – whole fishing villages were thrust “several metres” upwards and wharves suddenly located hundreds of metres inland, Gibson said.

Such uplift events are relatively common in the Pacific’s so-called “Ring of Fire”, a hotbed of seismic and volcanic activity at the junction of several tectonic plates.

A thundering 8.0-magnitude quake in the Solomon Islands in 2007 thrust Ranogga Island upwards by three metres, exposing submerged reefs once popular with divers and killing the vibrant corals, expanding the shoreline outwards by several metres in the process.

During the massive 9.2-magnitude earthquake off Sumatra which triggered a devastating tsunami across the Indian Ocean in 2004, several islands were pushed upwards while others subsided into the ocean.

The Aceh coast dropped permanently by one metre while Simeulue Island was lifted by as much as 1.5 metres, exposing the surrounding reef which became the island’s new fringe.

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Comments (47) Closed

Dungeon Keeper
Sep 25, 2013 05:26pm

Earthquakes are going to be the reason for Gog n Magog to be liberated from their captivity

S Bara
Sep 25, 2013 05:25pm

Looks like this piece of land was never washed by water.

Sep 25, 2013 05:53pm

Come on MOP! Let's tap the methane out

syada saba sugra hassan zari
Sep 25, 2013 06:11pm

c view......p

Sep 25, 2013 06:24pm

and also giving us some indications about possibility of gas reserves underneath. I wish if we can explore it further and probe if we can exploit it for the good of all of us.

Azad Ghalib
Sep 25, 2013 06:29pm

I have heard that Real Estate agents are already busy in selling plots of land on the island and one magnate has already started construction of his exclusive villa!!

Sep 25, 2013 06:32pm

ohh look! one more outing spot!

Sep 25, 2013 06:43pm

@Shiraz: You speak like a 7th century illiterate arab

Sep 25, 2013 06:52pm

Need a fast talking Real Estate Salesman to sell it to some Arab Sheikh. Great opportunity to make a quick buck - 2 month later; Oops, came up from the Sea; went down the sea, hey Sheikh, you want to keep your island? - buy a submarine!

Zahid Khan
Sep 25, 2013 07:00pm

Amazing from the Almighty Allah !!! ALLAH IS THE ONLY GREATEST AND SUPER POWER

Sep 25, 2013 06:58pm

Use re-enforcement to stabilize it. It wont cost much and the resources can be used for the well being of the nation.

Sep 25, 2013 07:21pm

Govt. of Pakistan should think about building a nice high-rise hotel on this Island, and market this area as a tourism attraction. That'll be the best seller and would local economy. Allah has paved the way ... now it is upto our Government to avail the opportunity. But as we all know, most likely, this piece of Island will be sold to China and the money will go into Shariff Bro pockets!

Sep 25, 2013 07:37pm

subhanallah ye allah ka mojza ha

Sep 25, 2013 09:23pm

I hope the geological components of this island can be explored specially the ocean side of its rocks and mud....can this be saved from going back into the water?...will require lots engineering brains....vegetation can hold the upper land but not sure how to save the bottom...if this is all mud...the pictures show all rocks? Its more than mars for many Pakistanis as the mineral riches is what the country needs to solve the energy crisis!!

Ravi Ingale from Pune
Sep 25, 2013 09:58pm

The beautiful miracle of Nature. If will get chance to go Gwadar then I will most see this Island.

Sep 25, 2013 10:02pm

That doesn't look like 300 feet!

Sep 25, 2013 10:28pm

Methane is rising from the island. This area is rich with petroleum products, yet no government in Pakistan has ever drilled for oil in the sea in this area. Most oil is produced from wells that are at sea. West of Pakistan, Persian gulf is full of oil wells, East of Pakistan, there are Indian oil wells near Gujrat (Kandla) and Mumbai (bombay high field).

Sep 25, 2013 10:27pm

@S Bara: I have just visited this Island it is amazing .

Sep 25, 2013 10:38pm

It looks like the rest of the country. It will go back to see just like rest of the country.

Sep 25, 2013 10:44pm

@ANSER AZIM: We can't and couldn't hold the country together, you are talking about a 300 meter piece of land. Save this Island, I assure you in 50 year 99 people living there would want their independence.

Sep 25, 2013 10:50pm


Sep 25, 2013 11:06pm

@ANSER AZIM:I agree,this island needs to be explored asap before it vanishes back into the water,we might just be in for a pleasant surprise? who knows,if nothing else it will give some hope to the nation.So of you go engineers and start digging the treasures...

Sep 25, 2013 11:30pm

@Riaz: Riaz nice idea. Sharif and Zardari should hire Malik Riaz of Behria Town to make one Zalzala Town.

Sep 25, 2013 11:31pm

@Dungeon Keeper: i dont know .... some believe they are already out and doing their business in the world youtube search imran hussian and listen to few of his lecture NOT ONCE BUT FEW TIMES PLS before you make your mind .....

Sep 26, 2013 12:16am

the island is loocated at coastal of makran division it is so nice for all the peaple of should take an action for working of this island because it is the miracle of God please dont waste your time now

Sep 26, 2013 12:29am

Ye 500 yards ka plot kitney ka hoga is island per??

Sep 26, 2013 12:34am

@Riaz: Boss, tipsy morning???

Sep 26, 2013 12:40am

All minorities, Shia, Hindu, Ahmedis, Christians, and Sikhs should be given this piece of land so they can start their lives anew and live in peace here

Sep 26, 2013 01:39am

@Zahid Khan:

Send the Jihadis to this Island.

Sep 26, 2013 01:47am

@Naseer: i dont know when our govt will be able to make responsible decisions. They all are useless and play with taxpayers money, shame on all of them.

Sep 26, 2013 02:04am

We need to build a jail on this island and put all the corrupt polictics in it and let the island slowly sink.

Sep 26, 2013 04:18am

It is sad that the island will disappear soon. i thought may be we can make another DHA there.

Sep 26, 2013 04:37am

For God sake, It is not miracle or "mojza"...Its scientifically proven phenomenon.

Sep 26, 2013 05:02am

@Riaz: I agree we should definitely create a resort on here and spend money to attract tourists so they can drown in a few months when it sinks. Genius Idea

Sep 26, 2013 05:18am


Taha Lateef
Sep 26, 2013 06:14am

@Naseer: This is hydrated methane, not the normal methane gas which you get from the oil & gas wells. There is no extraction method that currently exists for hydrated methane that is economical and can be run on an industrial scale.

Taha Lateef
Sep 26, 2013 06:17am

@Riaz: Build a nice high rise hotel on a mud volcano / mud island that will be washed away in a couple of months. Bro are you even serious?

dr Muhammad hanif
Sep 26, 2013 10:08am

This seems to an indication by the Almighty Allah that gas-energy is available in Pakistan just short of efforts to dig up. Thanks to Allah Almighty and pray to authorities to rush up to exploit resource.

Sep 26, 2013 01:51pm

amazing view, the land under the ocean that u could not be seen

Ahmed Saeed
Sep 26, 2013 02:37pm


Sep 26, 2013 02:51pm

hmmm. good 1

Sep 26, 2013 05:27pm

@Zahid Khan: People, Please be a little sensible in your comments. This Natural Calamity or "Allah's Act" has left over 300 People Dead.

waseem bhatti
Sep 26, 2013 07:49pm

logo or tum apney parwerdigar ki kon kon si nemut ko jhutlao gey

Muhammad Younus Butt
Sep 27, 2013 01:20pm

@dr Muhammad hanif: Yes Dr.Muhammad Hanif says right and Pakistan must get benefits from these natural gifts,but sorry to say our concerned authorities will never consider and think full attention on these natural recoveries.At rhis time,the general public must avoid visiting there as there may be dangerous gasses which cause serious problems to human health.It is not a public place,the government must control this area and cordoned it off with security reasons.

Muhammad Younus Butt
Sep 27, 2013 01:31pm

This Island will take time to form itself by natural process and become solid.I do not understand why Pakistani coastal authorities are not controlling this place and close it for public safety.It is not safe place and in the present circumstances may create severe problems to general visitors,as it is soft,scattered and smoky place.Pakistani Authorities must come forward and take control and declare it non visiting place till every thing for security reasons and some troublesome things are removed.

Sep 27, 2013 09:35pm


Sep 27, 2013 10:52pm

@Rehan: Allah owns natural phenomenon. every one is creation of ALLAH.